Equanimity as a Parenting Tool
I took a yoga class last week for the first time in years. I had practiced yoga three times per week for about four years and stopped five years ago when I got a rotator cuff injury from doing one too many chaturangas . A friend was trying Hot Yoga in our neighborhood and on a whim I decided to go along with her. I loved being back in a yoga class and enjoyed the feeling of the 105 degree room on a cold and grey morning.
The teacher talked about "Equanimity" as part of your yoga practice and the word ran through my mind throughout the class. Equanimity according to Dictionary.com means "mental or emotional stability or composure, esp. under tension or strain; calmness; equilibrium". In the class, equanimity meant to breathe through the difficult poses, maintain your balance as best you can and don't compare yourself to others.
On the walk home, it dawned on me that this was the perfect approach to parenting. Rather than yelling at my children to feed the dog for the third time, I could take a deep breath, and then gently remind them that the dog needs to be fed. Instead of flipping out when my son informed me that he took the subway with a friend to Religious school rather than the bus (sans supervision), I could take a more balanced approach and recognize that even though he did this without my permission, he not only survived, but learned a new skill in the process.
"Don't compare yourself to others" is probably the most difficult skill to master. When other yogis are in headstand and you can barely get yourself into a tripod, it is truly humbling. It is virtually impossible not to look around the room to see how your warrior II pose stacks up. When it comes to parenting, it is also challenging not to compare. Whose kid is smarter, taller, faster, a better read? Which parent sends the healthiest snacks, is the one to always volunteer, has the best career?Continued on the next page